A Guide to California's
Reptiles and Amphibians

Sounds of
Black Toad - Anaxyrus exsul

(Myers, 1942)

(= Bufo exsul)
Click the speaker icon to listen to an mp3 sound file.

Male Black Toads do not have a pronounced vocal sac, and do not make an advertisement call, but they do make a call during breeding aggregations. Their call is a weak high-pitched plinking sound, like the peeping of a chick, repeated rapidly seveal times. The sound of a group of males calling has been compared to the sound of a distant flock of geese.

Calls are produced at night and during the day during the short breeding season. Males make their call primarily when they are in close contact with other males. Rather than being advertisement calls made to attract females, these calls are generally considered encounter or aggressive calls or release calls, which serve to maintain territory and spacing between males. It's also possible that female toads are attracted to the sounds of male encounter calls and can judge a male's condition by his call, similar to the function of an advertisement call. Since it is not made to attract distant females, the call is not very loud.

Unreceptive females may also produce a release call when grasped on the back by a male. Males and females sometimes make a release call when grabbed across the back by a human hand.

The following recordings were made during daylight at the location shown below - the shallow edge of a desert spring in Inyo County.
The chip note and song of a Red-winged Blackbird can be heard in the background, along with the steady sound of wind in dry reeds.

Sound  This is the short sound made by one toad. Sound  This is 2:40 of a large group of toads calling continuously.
Sound  This is the short sound made by one toad, slightly lower in pitch than the previous toad. Sound  This is 2:00 of a large group of toads calling continuously.
Sound  Another 2:00 of a different group of toads calling continuously.  
Black Toad Habitat Black Toads Black Toads Black Toad Habitat
Breeding habitat at breeding time, Inyo County
A group of toads making encounter calls as they compete for a female. Two male toads at breeding time. As the top toad approached the bottom toad, the bottom toad produced his encounter call.

Breeding toads in habitat, Inyo County
Waveform and Sonogram
Sound  This is a recording of one repetition of the encounter call of a Black Toad recorded in daylight in Inyo County.
The image above is a visual representation of this call. Click on it to see a larger image.
Click here for information about how to read the waveform and sonogram images.
Short Videos
Black Toads Black Toads Black Toads Black Toads
A solo male approaches a male in amplexus who gives an encounter call. This video shows some of the sounds and activities of Black Toads on the breeding grounds. A group of male toads thrash around in the water trying to wrestle away a female away from another male.

Non-stop ultimate toad-fighting action with a gang of toads trying to steal away females from other males, chasing them around the pond.
You can listen to more recordings of Black Toads on this cd:

Carlos Davidson - Frog and Toad Calls of the Pacific Coast

cd cover

and on the cd that comes with this book:

Lang Elliott, Carl Gerhardt, and Carlos Davidson - The Frogs and Toads of North America - Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

book cover

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